The morning was chaotic enough, and Katie wasn't helping.
"Let's go to preschool, shall we?"
"I not shall we, I Katie!"
I didn't really have time for the debate, nor a lesson that would fall on deaf ears anyway.
How in the world do mothers handle mornings once their children have started school?
I have a fairly busy schedule.
Now, it's busier.
My job is loaded with stress and filled with deadlines.
Now, it's worse.
Life changed dramatically when I enrolled Katie in preschool.
There are some good parts, including the fact that Katie loves it and begs to go. She had a big case of withdrawals when a three-day weekend meant a four-day break from preschool.
It also is a useful tool for bribes. Yes, I know that's not effective because it wasn't mentioned in "Raising your Children with Love and Logic," but right now I'm ready to try anything (other than a hose) that will get Katie out of bed and moving.
We're on a deadline here.
Even with the lure of preschool, Katie still tells me, "I just need to lay here, Mom."
We're on a deadline here.
To mitigate the time lost with arguments and both my daughters' lack of haste, I do as much the night before as possible.
I've made a breakfast casserole, sliced apples, froze homemade waffles and bought individual servings of flavored oatmeal to ensure the girls start the day with a healthy breakfast.
I used to leave that to the baby sitter; now I get to be in charge of it.
I feel like such an adult.
We haven't gotten to the waffles yet, but the sausage, egg and cheese casserole went to the dog, the girls licked off the peanut butter and left the apples, and the oatmeal evidently was so gross that Katie had to gag it back into the bowl.
I must ask whether she is eating 16 times in a 20-minute period.
Laundry is done and clothes put away in pairs so I don't have to search for matching outfits. Baths were taken care of the night before.
I'm considering just sleeping in my work clothes -- anything to shave a little time.
We fix hair, find shoes, brush teeth and make sure everyone has their blankie (two for Nikki).
Then we feed the dog and load the car.
You wouldn't believe what a process that is.
Today, I just threw the girls in and tossed them each a half slice of toast. That saved me a few minutes of putting together a nutritious breakfast that no one will eat anyway.
Then, one girl goes to the baby sitter's, which -- imagine -- is clear across town from the preschool.
By the time I get my morning coffee, I'm ready for a nap.
There's not nearly as much involved in dropping Katie off as I'd like there to be. We walk into the door, and in a flash, she's across the room.
I guess that's better than trying to shake a child who's clinging to your leg, smearing body fluids on your wool pants, but it's a little hard on your ego.
Katie solved that today by making me chase her into the castle tent to get a kiss goodbye, but having to be carried out by a teacher with tears in her eyes because she didn't get a hug, too.
That did my heart good.
The worst day was the first. It was my first attempt at being one of those magical "soccer moms."
Added to the usual chaos was that the baby sitter had an appointment, so Nikki had to spend an hour in the office with me before the two of us picked up Katie.
That's the last time we'll do that.
I left Nikki alone on the playground while I went to collect Katie.
That was a no-no, for which I was duly chastised. We don't leave children alone outside.
I understand that concept from a preschool's perspective, but from mine ...
Nikki knows very well the purpose of a fence and understands boundaries, but, well, parenting is a learning experience. I'm sure I'm not the only one who went into this with few qualifications.
Anyway, the fiasco started when I went outside and Nikki was at the top of the slide. I let Katie go to chase Nikki down and entered something that resembled Groundhog Day. I'd catch one girl and the other would escape to the top of another climbing-type thing. While coaxing her off that, the other would climb into a playhouse, the door of which was not made for adults.
It went on and on.
I finally had to resort to threats. I told Katie there would be no more preschool if she didn't come out and stand very still while I pulled Nikki off the monkey bars -- or something like that.
Though I'm well aware that's not an appropriate tactic, it worked, and sometimes you've just got to use the tools at hand.
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.